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Tue Dec 18, 2012, 03:52 PM

Obama Signals Four More Years of Bad Relations With Latin America [View all]



http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/12/20121218123136470626.html

President Obama went too far in throwing gratuitous insults at President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela on Friday in an interview in Miami. By doing so, he not only offended the majority of Venezuelans, who voted to re-elect their president on October 7, but even many who did not. Chávez is fighting for his life, recovering from a difficult cancer operation; in Latin America, as in most of the world, this wholly unnecessary vilification of Chávez by Obama is a breach not only of diplomatic protocol but also of ordinary standards of civility.

Perhaps even more importantly, Obama’s ill-timed aspersions sent an unpleasant message to the rest of the region. While Obama can get away with anything in the major media outlets, you can be sure that his remarks were noticed by the presidents and foreign ministries of Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and others. The message was clear: Expect four more years of the same failed Cold War policies toward Latin America that President George W. Bush championed and Obama continued in his first term.

These presidents see Chávez as a close friend and ally, someone who has helped them and the region; like millions of Venezuelans they are praying for his recovery. They also see Washington as responsible for the bad relations between the U.S. and Venezuela (as well as the hemisphere generally), and these unfortunate remarks are additional confirmation. At the 2012 Summit of the Americas, Obama found himself as isolated as George W. Bush was at the notorious 2005 summit. It was a sea change from the 2009 Summit, where everyone – including Chávez – greeted Obama warmly and saw in him the potential for a new era of U.S.-Latin American relations.

To these governments, Obama’s broadsides about Chávez’s “authoritarian policies” and “suppression of dissent” have a bad smell, even ignoring the offensive timing. Venezuela just had an election in which the opposition, which has most of the income and wealth of the country, as well as most of the media, mobilized millions of voters. The turnout was 81 percent of registered voters, with about 97 percent of the voting-age population registered. The government did not “suppress dissent,” nor has it done so in other elections; or even when the dissenters shut down the oil industry and crippled the economy in 2002-2003 – actions that would have been illegal and blocked by the force of the state in the United States. Peaceful protestors in Venezuela are far less likely to get beaten or tear-gassed or shot with rubber bullets, by security forces, than they are in Spain, and probably most other democracies.

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Reply Obama Signals Four More Years of Bad Relations With Latin America [View all]
flamingdem Dec 2012 OP
kooljerk666 Dec 2012 #1
Demeter Dec 2012 #5
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #31
Bacchus4.0 Dec 2012 #2
Scootaloo Dec 2012 #3
Judi Lynn Dec 2012 #4
Demeter Dec 2012 #6
COLGATE4 Dec 2012 #30
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #32
Peace Patriot Dec 2012 #7
Bacchus4.0 Dec 2012 #8
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joshcryer Dec 2012 #29
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #33
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joshcryer Dec 2012 #54
Judi Lynn Dec 2012 #23
joshcryer Dec 2012 #25
Judi Lynn Dec 2012 #41
Zorro Dec 2012 #11
flamingdem Dec 2012 #12
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flamingdem Dec 2012 #16
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joshcryer Dec 2012 #28
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flamingdem Dec 2012 #19
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joshcryer Dec 2012 #26
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joshcryer Dec 2012 #55
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naaman fletcher Dec 2012 #45
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joshcryer Dec 2012 #53